IEM Katowice 2017
IEM Katowice ended up sneaking up on me. With many teams pulling out of the yearly tournament, its landscape is a bit more tumultuous than it has been in recent years, with many teams citing visa issues or simply wanting to focus on the current split in their respective regions. Unlike many previous years, NA has no presence at the finals as both C9 and TSM pulled out of participating. So, with so many top-tier teams outside the EU not participating, this year looks to be the best chance for an EU team to take away the trophy. The participating teams are:
- G2 Esports [EU LCS]
- H2K-Gaming [EU LCS]
- M19 (formerly Albus Nox Luna) [LCL]
- Unicorns of Love [EU LCS]
- Flash Wolves [LMS]
- Kongdoo Monster [LCK]
- ROX Tigers [LCK]
- Hong Kong Esports [LMS]
Many of the teams outside of the EU LCS aren’t doing too well in their respective region outside of Flash Wolves who are sitting at the top of the LMS. Meanwhile, the top 3 teams from EU are present, and those teams have had strong domestic showings leading up to week 6 of the LCS. Taking into count the region’s strength in general, the team’s strengths and weaknesses, the difficulty of the group they were placed in, here are my predictions on the final standings of the tournament, followed by teams to watch and possible upsets:
Even with G2’s bad performances on the international stage so far, I still believe the team to be strong enough when going up against the other teams in the tournament. They were previously upset by M19 at Worlds, so they should be more wary of facing the team rather than seeing them as a bottom tier team at the tournament. While their group is slightly stronger due to the presence of Flash Wolves and Unicorns of Love. However, even if G2 is beaten by Flash Wolves and sent into the losers bracket, they should be able to advance by beating both UOL, who they have already beaten domestically, and Kongdoo Monster, who is currently a bottom tier team in the LCK.
Flash Wolves are my favorite team outside of the main three regions that I have talked about. Their main claim to fame is that they frequently beat top tier Korean teams at international tournaments and they are a generally strong team. Flash Wolves tend to stay off people’s radars for long periods of time as the LMS isn’t as widely reported on as the LPL, LCK, or either of the LCS regions. It is always hard to peg down where Flash Wolves will end up in the end, but considering the teams playing, I can see Flash Wolves beating UOL in Group B Loser’s Bracket.
With Group A looking considerably weaker in terms of talent, H2K should be guaranteed to get out of the group stage, even if they end up going through the losers bracket. Their main competition in the group is the weakened ROX Tigers, who bled all of their members during the off-season and were forced to rebuild, so unless M19 manages to upset once again, H2K are sure contender in Group A. During playoffs they will have to face off against either G2 or Flash Wolves, and based on results in EU, I don’t think H2K can pull it off in the end.
Speaking of the ROX Tigers, with M19 being major question marks and Kongdoo being the weakest LCK team at the moment, ROX Tigers should also advance into the playoffs along with H2K. However, upon reaching the playoff stage, they would face off against either of the powerhouses from Group B and I don’t think ROX Tigers can become cohesive enough from their LCK games to perform internationally at this time.
Unicorns of Love
While Unicorns would be higher on this list if it were a simple power ranking, due to their placement in Group B, their schedule is unforgiving. They have to come back from losing against G2, to facing them again with just a few extra days of preparation they can do. Their first game is up against Kongdoo Monster, which is a single game series, which they have a good chance of winning, which would send them up by a grueling set of best of three’s against the teams, which is most likely going to be their downfall in the group.
Kongdoo Monster faces the same problem that UOL does, their group has a lot of tough opponents. Managing to beat UOL, only guarantees a best-of-three against either the Flash Wolves or G2, which would then be followed by another best-of-three against the other in the losers bracket. While Kongdoo is the weakest LCK team, being in that specific league brings some merit with it, along with their achievements at IEM Gyeonggi, during which they qualified for the tournament in Katowice.
Even with Group A being less dangerous than Group B, it is unlikely that M19 will be able to do a repeat of their miraculous performance at the Worlds Stage. If they manage to beat ROX Tigers, they would go up against H2K in a best-of-three and would have to replay ROX in a best-of-three, two feats which I doubt they will be able to achieve during the short tournament.
Hong Kong Esports
LMS teams have always had two major representatives, Flash Wolves, and ahq. Hong Kong Esports is currently sitting around the middle of the standings in the LMS. While Flash Wolves have shown strong performances internationally, Hong Kong Esports has not been to any international events, so expectations for the team are very low.
It is important to note that places beyond 5th are interchangeable between 5h and 6th, 7h and 8th. With my predictions in mind, it is easy to see that this tournament should be a sure victory for one of the European squads, with a chance that Flash Wolves show up against EU teams and take first place. Now, let’s take a look at some possible scenarios that can throw my predictions out of the window.
G2 loses to Flash Wolves, G2 gets dropped in the first round of the Loser’s Bracket
This scenario is somewhat unlikely, as, after the first set of games within groups, the following games are best of three’s, but it can happen. G2’s poor international performance can bite them in the early stages of the tournament, causing them to be the first to drop from Group B. This would make Flash Wolves the likely winners and UOL the runners-up.
G2 beats Flash Wolves, Flash Wolves gets dropped in the first round of the Loser’s Bracket
Similar scenario as the previous one, Kongdoo or UOL could upset against Flash Wolves early on in the tournament due to unknown factors they may not have known about the other team. This would only cause Flash Wolves to drop out of the playoff picture while guaranteeing G2 an easier time to secure the 1st place finish.
M19 repeats their Worlds performance
What if M19 manage to upset against the other team against all odds? They would probably experience a similar fate in the playoffs, being cleanly swept under the rugs by the first team they play as teams would have prepared for them better.
Hong Kong Esports surprise everyone
While not having many expectations placed on them, Hong Kong Esports could manage to beat out the inconsistent H2K, the declawed Tigers, and the rebranded Albus Nox Luna. While this is unlikely, the unknown tends to throw all predictions into chaos.
Teams to watch:
G2 have been phenomenal this year in the EU LCS, they’ve slowed down their games and have focused more on control than relying on outplays across the map. “Perkz” has shown good performances so far, both as a carry and as a team player. The only question mark about the team is their bot lanes somewhat inconsistent performance, but that has gotten better on a weekly basis.
Flash Wolves are always exciting to watch, and this year, they have replaced some of their players who haven’t been performing that well on the international stage. They always seem to have one teams number every single time they face them and there always seems to be a story surrounding the team’s games, ranging from the ultimate comeback story or a tale of redemption.
Unicorns of Love:
UOL are still the masters of the chaos style of League of Legends. Their outlandish tactics and picks make them exciting to watch from game to game, and that hasn’t slowed down with their various roster changes over the years. UOL are always a very likable team and their team manager always puts a smile on peoples faces with his outlandish antics and outfits.